Soldiers from the 212th Combat Support Hospital, 30th Medical Brigade, 21st Theater Sustainment Command, conducted a wide range of medical operations in a field environment April 13 through 21, during a live exercise, LIVEX, at Miesau Army Depot.
The exercise began with Soldiers rapidly constructing a field hospital using mostly tents. They accomplished this task within three days, building a hospital with a wide range of capabilities including an emergency room, more than 80 hospital beds, an intensive care unit, a radiology department, a pharmacy and even an operating room.
The Soldiers of the 212th CSH erected the emergency room, bed space and other portions of the hospital within the first 24 hours of starting construction. The medical Soldiers were able to begin seeing patients right away as they continued to construct the rest of the facility.
“Sometimes when we’re doing an exercise, the whole hospital isn’t necessarily here,” said Capt. Tonia Jordan, an emergency room nurse with the 212th CSH. “For this exercise, it was important that all functions of the 212th CSH are here, so there was a little bit more with this exercise than what has been typical in the past.”
The LIVEX gave the 212th CSH the opportunity to fully test their capabilities in a wide range of activities that they could encounter while deployed.
“The real importance of this exercise is that it’s a multinational and multi-component training event that’s another part of Europe’s leadership laboratory developing a strong Europe,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Rodney Rhoades, the 21st TSC’s senior enlisted leader.
“(The members of the 212th CSH) are standing ready to ensure that our Soldiers on the battlefield are ready to go at a moment’s notice. And if there is an injury, if something does happen, you’ve got the very best professionals taking care of you.”
The exercise tested the 212th CSH in a variety of situations, such as treating patients following a mass casualty situation, performing surgery in the field and even conducting a blood drive.
“It’s important for us to train for the worst of the worst so that we’re prepared for anything,” said Capt. Michelle Fredach, an ER nurse with the 212th CSH. “Whether it be working in an inclement environment or receiving (mass casualties) right off the bat, it’s better to prepare for the worst so that if it does happen, you know what you’re doing.”
One of the most unique aspects of the LIVEX was the two-day period where Soldiers conducted real-world surgery on live patients in the field. Patients from Landstuhl Regional Medical Center volunteered to have their surgeries conducted at the field hospital.
“They always say train as you fight, and that’s a really important part of doing this out here,” said volunteer patient Pfc. Minjae Lee, a paralegal with the 1st General Support Aviation Battalion, 214th Aviation Regiment, 12th Combat Aviation Brigade. “It’s important to make sure everyone knows what to do so they can become acclimated to a field situation.
“I’m not too nervous about the procedure,” Lee continued before having three of his wisdom teeth extracted. “It’s pretty cool and it’s a good story to tell.”
While most of the medical professionals of the 212th CSH rotate in and out of LRMC and are proficient in their skills, operating in the field gave them an opportunity to come together and hone their skills in a deployed environment.
“For the most part we are normally at LRMC working at the hospital, and these live exercises allow us to come down and work side by side with our medics and the rest of the personnel in the 212th CSH,” Fredach said. “It all-ows us to hone our skills, and it gives us an opportunity to work with the Soldiers we are assigned with.”
“Most of us work in the hospital so we tend to be up to speed on our skills, but that’s in a fixed stationed hospital,” Jordan added. “Coming out here and working with our teams is extremely important. If we were put in a life-or-death situation, we need to be able to save lives.”
It was not only the Soldiers of the 212th CSH conducting operations during the LIVEX; Soldiers from more than 10 partner nations also participated in portions of the exercise as well as conducting observation and evaluation in order to better align operations on a larger scale with their NATO partners.
“Coming together with our partner nations is extremely important for us,” Jordan said. “Our deployments will never be with just ourselves. We’re going to have our partner nations with us as well, so it’s important to see how they function and how they work.
“When you get together with your partner nations, it’s an added benefit,” she continued. “It makes everything come together as if we were in a real life situation.”
The final day of the LIVEX ended with a blood drive where more than 40 Soldiers donated blood to be used for the Armed Services Blood Program.
According to members of the 212th CSH, the LIVEX was a huge success and gave the Soldiers a great learning experience that will keep them ready to deploy at a moment’s notice in order to support service members in harm’s way.
“The 212th CSH proved that Strong Europe truly is strong in every aspect and every formation that we have in the European theater,” Rhoades said. “With the focus of this team, from the youngest private to the most senior colonel, these professionals are ready to engage and care for our Soldiers, our Airmen, our Marines, our Sailors and our NATO allies to ensure that our warriors get back into the fight.”